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You Rang, M'Lord?
Essentially a recast of creators Jimmy Perry and David Croft's earlier Hi-De-Hi in the world of Upstairs Downstairs. You Rang M'Lord? ran between 1988 and 1993.
It took us into the world of scheming butler Alf, his daughter Ivy, footman James Twelvetrees and their employer, Lord Meldrum.
Each episode centred on Alf's scams to swindle Meldrum or his dimwitted family, usually frustrated by other servants' incompetence or the self-righteous Twelvetrees.
The playoff of Alf versus Twelvetrees and his boss was a focal point of a comedy each episode of which was 50, rather than the time-honoured 30 minutes long.
You Rang... is notable now mostly for its loving research and high production values. The writers went to great lengths to try and explore character and worlds, but because the characters had started life thin and underworked, they never grew out of it.
For most of their career Perry and Croft had turned clichés on their heads and created characters that went beyond normal. The research and interest they showed in the 20s setting and 'getting it right' in You Rang... seems to have made them forget to put many laughs in.
The best roles were those that brought a lightness to them - Bill Pertwee glaring and drinking in equal measure as PC Wilson, Mavis Pugh as the archetypal mad woman in the attic, Lady Lavender, and Cathy Rabett as 'tomgirl' Cissy Meldrum.
After four series, the adventures above stairs and under, came to an end in 1993.
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